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Dental technology has come a long way in the last 100 years, and dentists are always looking for ways to improve their practices for future patients. Sometimes the tried-and-true methods may become outdated and need to be changed, just like how more and more groups are turning away from mercury-filled amalgams.

What Are the Dangers of Mercury?

Mercury, or quicksilver, is a liquid metal that is used in many chemical processes, including the creation of thermometers and barometers.

Mercury on its own can be quite dangerous to humans if it is consumed or inhaled, and can lead to health issues like kidney problems, muscular weakness, and numbness in the hands and feet. The dangers of mercury have been known for a long time, with British hatmakers in the 1800’s reportedly suffering from mental degradation and even inspiring the “Mad Hatter” character in Alice in Wonderland.

How Is Mercury Used in Dentistry?

Mercury is often mixed with silver, copper, and other minerals to form amalgam: an alloy used in dental fillings and other methods of restoring teeth. 

Over the course of its life, the amalgam will release mercury vapors which will then be naturally inhaled and ingested by the wearer. Amalgam has been used in dentistry for decades, but medical groups and government bodies are now beginning to see the potential risks of mercury exposure in patients, with the European Union prohibiting the use of amalgam on patients 15 years or younger. The United States has not prohibited the use of amalgam or taken actions against it, but the FDA is currently re-evaluating the practice and may prohibit it in the future.

Scott E. Hayhurst Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is aware of the dangers of mercury, and we take every precaution that we can to keep our patients as safe possible. Give our dental experts a call today at (208) 376-7721 or visit us online and see how we are dedicated to making smiles shine with mercury-free dentistry.